The Fall 2012 Lectures


Thursday, October 4 at 7:30 pm        MISSISSAUGA

Our Emerging Understanding of the Neurobiological Basis of Sleep

Brian Murray, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., Director, Sleep Laboratory, Sunnybrook Research Institute;  Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto

Sleep disorders are surprisingly common and have significant societal impact.  The control of wakefulness and various states of sleep is maintained by elegant brain circuitry that is modulated by chemical, genetic, and behavioral influences.  We have had a rapid expansion in our understanding of these systems in recent years.  When there are abnormalities in these systems, there are often unusual medical and sometimes disastrous personal consequences.  This talk will outline our current understanding of the basic control of normal sleep and what happens when these systems are disturbed.

Sunday, October 21 at 3 pm                   TORONTO

Technology in Health Care: Friend or Foe?
Anthony Easty, Ph.D., P.Eng., C.C.E., Director, Global e-Health Innovations Health Technology Safety Research Team;
Senior Scientist, University Health Network, Toronto

Many advances in modern medical care rely heavily on technology, and great progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment.  However, error rates in medicine remain high in comparison to many other industries.  Technology often brings additional complexity, distracting users from the tasks that they are trying to perform.  It is important to understand the impact that technologies have on health care processes, so that we can maximize their benefits and minimize their negative impacts.   Examples will be provided to illustrate how we might accomplish this, and approaches will be proposed that offer the potential for improved adoption and safe use of technologies in health care.

Wednesday, October 24 at 7:30 pm        

Global Warming "Futures":  How Reliable are the Model Projections?
W. Richard Peltier, B.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., Department of Physics, 
University of Toronto,  Recipient of the 2011 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

The problem of global climate warming remains an unmet challenge to the ability of the international community to respond.  Warming due to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, caused primarily by human  influence due to fossil fuel burning, is undeniable.  Denial of the accuracy of the scientific projections of plausible futures is most often based upon claims that such projections depend upon overly complex computer models.  I will discuss the physics embodied in these models and the tests that have been performed to establish their validity.  These tests include not only verification of past projections by comparing them to subsequent observations, but also tests against episodes of extreme climate change that are known to have occurred in the past.  I will also discuss what the models suggest will be the climate future in the next century of the Great Lakes Basin region of North America, a landscape inhabited by 35 million persons.

*This lecture is co-sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and hosted by Ryerson University
*This lecture will be given at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto M5G 2C3, 7th Floor, Room TRS 1-067

RCI joined forces with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Canada’s major funder of science and engineering in universities, to establish the Foundation Lecture, celebrating the foundation of the RCI in 1849.  The Lecture is delivered by the winner of NSERC’s Herzberg Award, presented for a lifetime of extraordinary accomplishment in research in science or engineering.
(For information on previous Foundation Lectures, go HERE)

Sunday, October 28 at 3 pm                     TORONTO

Is Our Weather Becoming More Extreme?
David Phillips, O.C., M.A., Senior Climatologist, Environment Canada
Deluges, icy rains, humongous snowfall, weather bombs — if you think we’ve been cursed and clobbered a lot harder and a lot more often recently, you are not imagining it.  It used to be that our weather was dependable.  Now, more and more Canadians are asking: "What’s happening to our weather?"

Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 pm     MISSISSAUGA

The Day of the Locust and its Remarkable Reproductive Success
Angela B. Lange, Ph.D., Department of Biology, University of Toronto at Mississauga
This talk focuses on the ability of female locusts to generate vast numbers of offspring that can become plagues, and will concentrate on the female reproductive system of Locusta migratoria and the neural mechanisms that lead to its integrated control.

Sunday, November 4 at 3 pm                  TORONTO

Using Pharmacogenetics to Personalize Treatment in the
Family Doctor's Office:   Focus on Psychiatric Medications

James L. Kennedy, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., F.R.S.C., Director, Neuroscience Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health;
Co-Director, Division of Brain & Therapeutics, l’Anson Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
The science of pharmacogenetics is making solid progress in providing DNA-based information to clinicians to assist them in determining the right drug, the proper dosage, and how to avoid major side effects.  In the coming years, patients may wish to carry their genetic information on a memory card in their wallet or purse, in a similar notion to wearing a medical alert bracelet, but in a more information-rich manner.

Sunday, November 11 at 3 pm                 TORONTO

Energy for the Next Generation: A Reality Check
Andrew D. Miall, B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.S.C., Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto
Since the beginning of the twentieth century economic progress has depended on the availability of cheap oil and gas.  Its abundance had been expected to begin declining within a few decades.  However, new technologies are unlocking large new reserves of so-called “unconventional” resources, including oil sands and shale gas.  A continued low price for fossil fuel energy seems likely to delay any hoped-for shift to renewable energy, as the basis for a low-carbon economy, but major concerns remain to be resolved, including pollution associated with the oil sands, the fracking technology used to extract shale gas, and pipeline accidents.

Sunday, November 18 at 3 pm                 TORONTO

Function and Aesthetics of 19-Century Scientific Apparatus:  A Show-and-Tell
C. Douglas Creelman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
The science that we do is advanced by the instruments that are available.  In 1891 the University of Toronto Psychology Laboratory was established, the first in the British Empire.  Happily many of the instruments and demonstration apparatus from those early times are still available for study. These elegant objects reflect the interests of psychological scientists in auditory and visual perception, response timing, and muscular control, among other areas of study.  The talk will demonstrate some of these elegant historic instruments, describe their function, and argue that the science of the time was constrained as well as moved forward by the apparatus, and that this constraint on scientific advancement remains to this day.

Sunday, November 25 at 3 pm                  TORONTO

Planetary Magnetism: Unlocking the 
Secrets of Planetary Interiors*
Sabine Stanley, Ph.D., 
Department of Physics, U of T
Many planetary bodies in our solar system have magnetic fields that we can observe with spacecraft instruments.  These magnetic fields are generated deep in planetary interiors by complex motions in liquid conductors.  Because these magnetic fields are observable outside of the planet, they can act as important probes of planetary interiors.  In this talk I will describe what we know of planetary magnetic fields and how they have provided us with fundamental information about the structure, composition and evolution of planets.

*This is a joint lecture with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre

Sunday, December 2 at 3 pm                 TORONTO

Fun for Kids Ages 6 to 12

Feeling Physics!

Russell Zeid, RCI Council Member

For those ages 6 to 12, come and experience the forces of physics, through a series of demonstrations and experiments with volunteers participating and feeling the effects of the forces that push, pull, bounce, fly and float during an hour of science discovery.

Thursday, December 6 at 7:30 pm    MISSISSAUGA

Estrogen, HRT and Muscle Health after Menopause
Peter M. Tiidus, Ph.D., Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and estrogen have been demonstrated (in both animal and human studies) to have significant positive effects on muscle strength, function, repair and mass.  These effects have positive implications for quality of life in older females who typically lose significant amounts of muscle mass and strength following menopause.  The benefits of estrogen and HRT on muscle health have to be weighed against possible health concerns associated with HRT.  The presentation will review the physiological effects of estrogen and HRT on skeletal muscle and also touch upon the controversies related to HRT and health in post-menopausal women.

We thank the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and 
the Mississauga Central Library for their support

FREE public one-hour lectures followed by a question period

TORONTO:  Sundays at 3 pm (doors open at 2:15)

Macleod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto

1 King’s College Circle (Nearest Subway is Queen’s Park Station)

Parking on campus, pay/display; limited disabled parking available

NOTE: The Foundation Lecture will be given at Ryerson University -- see below

MISSISSAUGA: Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm at Noel Ryan Auditorium, Mississauga Central Library, 301 Burnhamthorpe Road W.  Free parking is available under the library.  The entrance is an unmarked ramp that can only be accessed southbound on Duke of York Boulevard between City Centre Drive and Burnhamthorpe Road.